Space jets in a bottle

April 12, 2011

By creating space-like conditions in a slim 4m vessel, Italian researchers have helped confirm the behaviour of astrophysical jets – streams of charged particles shot out by supermassive black holes and young stars, which stretch several hundred thousand light years across space.

The streams of initially charged particles – known as astrophysical jets - which can travel close to the speed of light have previously only been understood through computer simulations but are now being brought to life in lab-produced vacuums.

Research published today, Tuesday, 12 April, in describes how Italian researchers have created space-like conditions in a vessel in order to use a fast–acting camera to confirm jets' behaviour.

These jets, which originate from the central point of galaxies, are among the largest objects in the universe and are usually associated with disks of tightly packed matter that spiral into objects like stars or black holes, almost like water spiralling into a plug hole.

To create, in part, extraterrestrial conditions in the lab, the researchers from the Politecnico di Torino, Politecnico di Milano, Universita' di Torino and the Max Planck Institute in Goettingen designed a 4m long cylindrical vacuum vessel.

By compressing and pumping gases such as Helium, Argon, Xenon and normal air, the researchers were able to give the gases the energy needed to propel them into the vessel's space-like vacuum.

Towards the end of the 4m vessel, the gases were bombarded with electrons, which excited the atoms and made them visible, therefore allowing them to be captured by a fast-acting camera.

The researchers found that real life astrophysical jets behave in their intermediate and far field in a way which is well represented by Newtonian Dynamics. This behaviour is captured by 3-D computer simulations, confirming how successful 3-D simulations can be for our understanding of inter-galactic behaviour.

Professor Daniela Tordella, of the Department of Aeronautical Engineering, Politecnico di Torino, said: "In modern science, the laboratory experimental proof is the ultimate one. It allows a firm and deep understanding of the phenomenology.

"In the present case, all considered, it is an economic mean of investigation compared to the space telescope observations. Whenever possible, we think that earth laboratory investigations should accompany the observational activity."

Explore further: ASTROPHYSICIST HELPS CRACK A BLACK HOLE MYSTERY: ENERGY JETS

More information: iopscience.iop.org/1367-2630/13/4/043011

Related Stories

ASTROPHYSICIST HELPS CRACK A BLACK HOLE MYSTERY: ENERGY JETS

August 5, 2004

With almost limitless gravitational power, black holes are supposed to gulp everything that comes near them, even weightless light photons. So astronomers have long sought explanations for observations that black holes emit ...

Chandra data reveal rapidly whirling black holes

January 10, 2008

A new study using results from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory provides one of the best pieces of evidence yet that many supermassive black holes are spinning extremely rapidly. The whirling of these giant black holes drives ...

Black holes' true power revealed by 'Russian doll' galaxy

November 9, 2010

Following a study of what is in effect a miniature galaxy buried inside a normal-sized one – like a Russian doll – astronomers using a CSIRO telescope have concluded that massive black holes are more powerful than ...

The power of spin

January 28, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Supermasssive black holes - objects with masses of millions or billions of suns - are found at the nuclei of dramatic galaxies like quasars where they are responsible for some of the most spectacular phenomena ...

Recommended for you

Quantum matter stuck in unrest

July 31, 2015

Using ultracold atoms trapped in light crystals, scientists from the MPQ, LMU, and the Weizmann Institute observe a novel state of matter that never thermalizes.

New blow for 'supersymmetry' physics theory

July 27, 2015

In a new blow for the futuristic "supersymmetry" theory of the universe's basic anatomy, experts reported fresh evidence Monday of subatomic activity consistent with the mainstream Standard Model of particle physics.

Rogue wave theory to save ships

July 29, 2015

Physicists have found an explanation for rogue waves in the ocean and hope their theory will lead to devices to warn ships and save lives.

Researchers build bacteria's photosynthetic engine

July 29, 2015

Nearly all life on Earth depends on photosynthesis, the conversion of light energy into chemical energy. Oxygen-producing plants and cyanobacteria perfected this process 2.7 billion years ago. But the first photosynthetic ...

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Party
1 / 5 (1) Apr 12, 2011
Here is Similar Story

By formulating space-like conditions in the slim 4-meter vessel, researchers have helped endorse the function of astrophysical jets streams of charged particles shot out by supermassive black holes as well as immature stars, that widen multiform hundred thousand light years opposite space.
ZephirAWT
Apr 14, 2011
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.